FDA Issues National Tattoo Ink Recall Due to Bacterial Contamination

A tattooist works on the hand of a girl during the 15th Annual Tattooing Convention in Manhattan in New York. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages)
MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a mass recall of several tattoo inks containing dangerous bacteria.

Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks are being recalled, as are Dynamic Color’s black inks from lots 12024090 and 12026090. And, finally, Solid Ink’s “Diablo” (red) tattoo ink, lot 10.19.18. Use of any of these inks poses a serious risk of infection.

In a statement, the FDA said:

The FDA has become aware of contaminated tattoo inks through its FY2018-2019 inspections of distributors and manufacturers, routine surveys of marketed tattoo inks, and subsequent microbiological analysis of sampled tattoo inks. The FDA has identified 6 tattoo inks contaminated with bacteria harmful to human health.

The tattoo inks were manufactured or distributed by 4 firms inspected under an ongoing assignment. Tattoo inks were analyzed using methods described in the Bacteriological Analytical Manual Chapter 23: Microbiological Methods for Cosmetics, which is the general method used to determine bacterial contamination of cosmetics.

Because of the unique vulnerability of tattooing — a non-medical professional, injecting chemicals through the protective barrier of our skin — the risk of infection is already significant. When contaminated ink is used, that danger is magnified exponentially.

Consumers are being advised to ensure none of the polluted inks are being used by their local parlor before receiving any tattoos. If infected, the FDA advises immediate contact of a healthcare professional, and alerting the establishment where it was contracted.

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